Two goals to the good inside 25 minutes, Rangers did what they had to do. Backed by a noisy away support which was in marked contrast to the small band of home fans, they eased into the last four with a dominant display.
As for Dundee, this was another deflating outing. The only consolation is that it wasn’t a heavier, more dispiriting defeat. The hosts could not summon a single shot on target.
Dundee never really gave themselves a chance, but they know they have more significant occasions to come – including next Sunday against the same opponents, this time with precious league points on offer.
Aaron Ramsey watch
All eyes were on Aaron Ramsey on what was only his second start since arriving on loan from Juventus. He lasted 79 minutes before being replaced by Charlie McCann. That was positive in itself – a near 80-minute run out on a difficult pitch. Ramsey will not regard this one-sided match as inconsequential. He has made a case to start Thursday’s vital Europa League last 16 second leg clash v Red Star Belgrade.
He was a tidy if not always prominent performer and had a role in Rangers’ second goal. James Tavernier played a 1-2 with his teammate before being upended by Ryan Sweeney.
Tavernier did the usual from the spot. The skipper also went close with a second-half shot that flashed past the far upright as he maintained his superb form.
Defensive colleague Connor Goldson was a standout as well and scored his side’s second goal – his third of the season. The centre-half was on hand to rifle the ball into the net after Filip Helander’s header was hooked off the line and onto the bar by Lee Ashcroft.
One worry for Rangers was the sight of Ryan Kent limping off to be replaced by Diallo after 67 minutes. He could be a doubt for Thursday’s trip to Belgrade. He was a menace in the time he was on the pitch here.
Rangers were able to see out the tie with comfort – it was a perfect outing prior to a rather more hazardous assignment in front of a big crowd in Serbia. Transfer window arrival James Sands enjoyed the most effective outing of his Rangers career in midfield – although he did not have to protect his defence from too much Dundee probing.
Gio Van Bronckhorst will also be happy to have given some game time to youngsters Charlie McCann and Alex Lowry, with the latter setting up Fashion Sakala shortly afterwards for Rangers’ third with three minutes left.
The Rangers manager came in for criticism recently for failing to make any substitutions in a hard-earned win over St Johnstone. There was little jeopardy involved here and he was free to make all five substitutions – including taking off Alfredo Morelos and former Dundee player Glen Kamara at half-time – as attention shifted towards Thursday.
Despair for Dundee
For Dundee, it was all a bit academic. They were in damage limitation mode from early on. More concerning than going out of a cup they last won in 1910 was losing influential defender Lee Ashcroft to injury in the second half. He looks to have aggravated the same hamstring injury that kept him out for several months earlier in the season. He will be a huge loss if, as feared, he will miss another series of games – it could even be a season-ender.
One bright spot for Dundee was the performance of 20-year-old goalkeeper Harry Sharp. The No 3 choice was making his third start in eight days and performed admirably well. He made two superb stops – one from point black range from Diallo and another to keep out an angled drive from Kemar Roofe.
Dundee: Sharp 8; Kerr 7, Ashcroft 4 (Daley-Campbell 44, 3), Sweeney 6, Marshall 5 (McDaid 77, 2 ); McMullan 5 (Byrne 61, 3), Anderson 7, McGhee 5, McGowan 5, McGinn 5 (McCowan 60, 4); Mullen 5.
Rangers: McLaughlin 5; Tavernier 8, Goldson 7, Helander 6, Bassey 6; Jack 7 (Lowry 86, 3), Sands 7, Ramsey 7 (McCann 79, 3), Kamara 5 (Sakala 45, 6), Kent 6 (Diallo 67, 4), Morelos 5 (Roofe 45, 5).